Andy and Karen Schock

Devan and John Bartlett

Growing up, Andy and Karen Schock’s musical tastes were as different as they were.

He played the guitar, loved hard rock, and played in a band at Yakima’s Eisenhower High. Raised in New Jersey, she played the piano, sang in school choirs and in musicals in high school, and favored folk music and groups like the Byrds.

Those differences aside, they were destined – literally and figuratively – to make music together.

Flash back to 1979. A vocalist scheduled to perform with Andy at his brother’s wedding backed out at the last minute. Friends suggested Karen, who had come to Yakima as a VISTA volunteer after college, as a replacement. “There was a spark,” Andy says.

They married in 1982, exchanging vows at the same South Carolina church where her parents had wed. They didn’t know then that their road together would lead to Ellensburg.

Prior to meeting Karen, Andy had worked a summer job at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle after two years at Washington State University. The center was a small operation back then, so small that even a ward clerk rubbed elbows with leading cancer researchers. “It was the tipping point that changed what I wanted to do,” Andy says.

After their marriage, they settled in Yakima. She landed a job with the Department of Social and Health Services. He worked as an LPN while going to school to become a Registered Nurse. When he finished there were no openings at Fred Hutchinson so he became an operating room nurse at Yakima Memorial Hospital, moving to KVH Hospital as operating room nurse manager in 1987.

But the role took Andy away from his passion – day-to-day contact with patients. He went back to school to become a physician assistant and worked as a PA in the Upper County and with a clinic in Yakima before joining KVH Internal Medicine in 2007.

By then, Karen already was a KVH institution. When the couple’s sons, Henri and Ben, were born she’d stepped away from her career. In 1990, with the boys in school, she took a half-time position as director of volunteer services at KVH Hospital. “I started with three or four volunteers,” she says. “They say the number of volunteers you have should match the number of patient beds. At that time, it was 50-bed hospital.”

The number of volunteers grew. So did Karen’s skill set and responsibilities. She did some marketing and spent eighteen years in social services and discharge planning. Today, she runs the KVH Cancer Outreach program and manages the pre-med and pharmacy students who rotate through KVH Hospital plus the 65 in-service volunteers who volunteer weekly.

Neither she or Andy plan to leave KVH any time soon. “It’s the environment we’re in, the people we work with, that makes it so rewarding,” Andy says. “I’ve been with these employees and volunteers 25 years. They take care of others with such pride,” Karen adds. “It’s inspiring.”